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Magnesium - a crucial supplement



Magnesium is an essential mineral in vertebrates and is the fourth abundant cation in the body, within the cell second only to potassium. A large number of enzymes require Mg for activation and it is involved with several physiological and biochemical processes including synthesis of RNA, DNA or protein and stabilization of membranes. (Schweigel M, Martens H, Frontiers in Bioscience 5, August 2000) The importance of extracellular and intracellular magnesium has become gradually recognized during the last century. At the present moment, pathologies as common as diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia are associated with an altered metabolism of magnesium, and this divalent cation is even being considered as a potential tool in the prevention or co-adjuvant treatment of ventricular arrhythmias, coronary heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver, among others. (Yago M, et al, Frontiers in Bioscience 5, July 1, 2000) Magnesium is a microelement that is essential for biological functions and particularly for cellular metabolism. It has a central role in protein, lipid, carbohydrate, and nucleic acid synthesis, and it is important for muscular physiology and nerve excitability. Magnesium has an important role in the stability of biological membranes, it controls immune phenomena, and it activates over 300 enzymes and exhibits antimutagenic effects against genotoxicity. (Bronzetti G, et al, J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol, 19(4), 2000)

Habitually low intakes of magnesium and resulting abnormal magnesium metabolism are associated with etiologic factors in various metabolic diseases, in particular: cardiovascular; blood pressure; skeletal growth & osteoporosis; and diabetes mellitus (Dietary Reference Intakes, National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, 1997).Magnesium is essential for potassium transport. Evidence suggests that a deficit of magnesium is closely interrelated to potassium deficiency and refractory potassium repletion. (Rude R, Am J Cardiol (Apr 18) 63(14), 1989) Numerous experiments and clinical observations have credited magnesium with a positive influence on the incidence of migraine attacks (Taubert K, Fortschr Med, 112(24), 1994). Reduced erythrocyte magnesium (Mg) levels have been reported in the chronic pain syndromes: fibromyalgia syndrome (FS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (Romano T, J Nutritional & Environ Med, 7, 107-111, 1997).

Magnesium deficiency seems to be implicated in immune dysfunction, including acute and chronic infections in AIDS, under which conditions researchers have consistently found lower concentrations of plasma and erythrocyte magnesium and also significant univariate associations between CD4(+) T-lymphocyte count and hematocrit and plasma magnesium concentrations. The lowest erythrocyte magnesium concentrations occurred in AIDS subjects who consumed alcoholic beverages. Magnesium levels, along with two other (less) significant joint predictors of CD(+) cell count, choline and zinc concentrations, together explained 43% of the variability in CD4(+) cell counts, leading to the conclusion that compromised nutritional status begins early in AIDS infections and contributes to disease progression. (Bogden J, et al, Am J Clin Nutri, 72(3), 2000) The foregoing and following associations are not comprehensive, yet illustrate the scope of beneficial effects attributed to magnesium nutrition. High dose magnesium appears to be effective in migraine prophylaxis (Peikert A, et al, Cephalgia, 16(4), 1996).

Magnesium deficiency is linked to heart disease. Hypertension and atherosclerosis are well-known precursors of ischemic heart disease, stroke and sudden cardiac death. It is now clear that a low dietary intake of Mg can be a strong risk factor for hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic heart disease, atherogenesis and sudden cardiac death. Deficits in serum Mg appear often to be associated with arrhythmias, coronary vasospasm and high blood pressure. Experimental animal studies suggest interrelationships between atherogenesis, hypertension (both systemic and pulmonary) and ischemic heart disease. Evidence is accumulating for a role of Mg2+ in the modulation of serum lipids and lipid uptake in macrophages, smooth muscle cells and the arterial wall. Shortfalls in the dietary intake of Mg clearly exist in Western World populations, and men over the age of 65 years, who are at greatest risk for development and death from ischemic heart disease, have the greatest shortfalls. It is becoming clear that Mg exerts multiple cellular and molecular effects on cardiac and vascular smooth muscle cells, which explains its protective actions. (BM Altura, BT Altura, Magnes Trace Elem 10:182-192, 1991-92)

Dietary intake of magnesium in developed countries is often far below recommended amounts. Furthermore, recommendations have been set at levels less than those amounts of magnesium required to achieve equilibrium in studies with humans. Consequently, chronic dietary inadequacy of magnesium is commonplace. Effects of magnesium deficiency are exacerbated by high protein intakes. Information on the influence of a marginal magnesium-deficient diet is accumulating. It is clear from these studies that magnesium deficiency may be present in spite of the absence of overt signs of deficiency and may be instrumental in changes within tissues, which impair function and/or promote disease. (K Kubena and J Durlach, Magnes Res, 3(3), 1990) High levels of dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, and grains however, ‘decrease’ magnesium absorption and/or retention, but not green leafy vegetables. Oral magnesium supplementation is totally atoxic, since it palliates magnesium deficiencies by simply normalizing the magnesium intake.(J Durlach, et al, Magnes Res, 7, 3/4, 1994)

The modem-day world's dietary magnesium status appears bleak, unless one has access to magnesium-rich drinking water (e.g., 30 to 90 mg/L) (Marier J, Magnesium content of the food supply in the modern-day world, Magnesium 5:1-8, 1986). Unless the problem is addressed, magnesium deficiency is likely to get worse because modern farming methods cause magnesium to leach from the soil. Unlike other nutrients, it is not current practice in agriculture to replace the soil magnesium that is harvested or leached. Water-borne magnesium is more completely and readily absorbed by the gut than is food-borne magnesium. (Durlach J, et al, Magnesium level in drinking water and cardiovascular risk factor: A hypothesis, Magnesium 4: 5-15, 1985) Changing a population's diet to include magnesium-rich foods appears to be less practical and less likely than improving the magnesium content of drinking water. The calcium/magnesium ratio in water should be about 2 to 1 to benefit the heart. Magnesium in water has better bio-availability than magnesium-fortified foods. Supplementation should be achieved by magnesium in water whether in its natural form or in an artificial form by addition of a soluble Mg salt to ordinary water. (Durlach J, Recommended Dietary Amounts Of Magnesium, Magnesium Research, 2:3, 1989)

Water-borne magnesium is absorbed 30% better and much faster than dietary Magnesium. There is a considerable diurnal variation in the amount of Mg absorption, leading to a 50-70% lower Mg status during the morning hours. When little or no breakfast is taken, the low Mg period is extended until the coffee break or later, and the Mg content of water will then have a crucial importance. Magnesium has all the required properties to protect the heart. It ensures the normal quiet heart rhythm. If this is unduly accelerated by toxic factors or other stress, Mg may reverse the effect. The abnormal human heart condition may occur well above the deficiency range. Magnesium prevents so-called "calcium overload", usually treated with pharmaceutical preparations ("calcium blockers") but Mg would probably do as well, or even better. (Löwik M, et al, Magnesium and public health: the impact of drinking water. In: Trace substances in environmental health: proceedings of University of Missouri's annual conference on the trace substances in environmental health,16: 189-95,1982)

Magnesium oxide is simple elemental magnesium. Normally Gaia Research would not recommend elemental minerals, preferring food sources (green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium), but in the case of elemental magnesium, there is considerable evidence that it is uniquely well utilized as a water additive, especially since water-borne magnesium is ionized and therefore likely to be more readily available than the magnesium in food. Alan Gaby MD, in a Literature Review & Commentary in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (2000) recently noted of therapeutic use of magnesium oxide for mild essential hypertension and quality of life, that: “It is noteworthy that the improvements reported in this study were achieved by supplementing with a relatively small amount of magnesium oxide. Many believed that it is poorly absorbed. Its use as a supplement should be reconsidered.” Oxygenated magnesium peroxide has additional assimilation and other advantages (significant alkalization and oxygenation) over other forms of magnesium, let alone simple effective elemental magnesium.

Magnesium peroxide (MgO2) is "oxygenated magnesia". It contains both magnesium (oxide) and oxygen and progressively liberates the oxygen upon contact with acids in water. It is 43.17% magnesium and 56.83% oxygen. Magnesium peroxide also imparts a beneficial alkaline reaction to water to which it is added, and in the process of neutralizing acids, liberates the bound oxygen (ensuring a more controlled action than with hydrogen peroxide, which latter tends to slightly acidify water). The oxygenating, alkalising and chemo-physiological effects of magnesium peroxide probably equal, if not exceed its basic magnesium nutritional benefits (The Editor). The spent magnesium peroxide is converted to magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2). The safety of this material is easily conveyed by the fact that a suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water is ordinary Milk of Magnesia, which explains its gentle, yet reliable laxative effect, the latter at doses approaching ½ - 1 tsp in a glass of water. Magnesium peroxide is used as an anti-septic, chiefly in dentifrices, including toothpowders. These magnesium compounds meet safety criteria for entering the environment, including the food chain. The compounds are simple minerals and so, microorganisms can metabolize them, using their internal organic acids to solubilize them. Pharmacopoeia indicate deodorant, antiseptic, anti-infective, antacid, and laxative effects for magnesium peroxide.

Magnesium Peroxide References(R Todd (ed) in Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, The Pharmaceutical Press, 1967); (S Budavari (ed) in The Merck Index: An encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and Biologicals, Merck & Co, 1989); (J Macintyre (ed) in Dictionary of inorganic compounds, vols 1-3, Chapman & Hall, 1992); (R Lewis (ed) in Hawley’s Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co, 1993); (D Lide (ed) in Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press, 1996); (N Greenwood and A Earnshaw (eds) in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edn, Butterworth, 1997); (F Cotton, et al (eds) in Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons, 1999)